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The Fear of Failure

Six months ago my column focused on this idea: “Be brave enough to suck at something new.” The inspiration came from a social media post, one that I could relate to.  (Http://

My March 3, 2020 self had some idea of the fear of failure. But now, half a year later, amid a global pandemic, I have a whole different level of fear. Almost daily I’m afraid of disappointing guests with their experience at our farm. I worry that customers won’t appreciate the quality of our produce. I wonder if others in our community and surrounding area value what we’re doing. And I’m anxious that the weather and elements won’t cooperate for glampers’ special celebrations.

Sometimes I feel almost smothered with the fear of failure. How about you?

Let’s face it; no one signs up for failure. Still, I have to agree with the post I referenced. There are some valuable benefits to failure. The three I focused on back then still resonate with me: we learn something; it makes you humble and it’s motivating. 

Fall and the beginning of the school year is a time when our thoughts turn to learning new things. If I’m honest, some days I’m fed up with learning. The cost seems too high. But I have to keep in mind that every time we try something new and fail, we walk away with newfound knowledge and experience. A few months ago I learned the importance of preventive treatment on plants when powdery mildew disease attacked our cucumbers and subsequently spread to two other towers. You better believe I’m on top of preventive treatments with our newest plants. 

Humility. It’s not a trait that I’m excited about possessing. The root of humility is shame. And I feel the shame pretty significantly sometimes. Since Emilie began her maternity leave, several plants have died on my watch. Never mind that heavy rains were the culprit. I’ve also been embarrassed that I haven’t scheduled someone to pressure wash the tent. (It’s happening tomorrow!) Houston and other family members have been telling me for a while that it needed to be done. This week I listened, and even managed to not get quite so defensive. 

I do have to admit that failure is motivating. We have to make money and I want guests to have a positive experience. If they don’t, they won’t come back and they won’t tell others about us. In our business, we rely heavily on word of mouth and online reviews. When people cut their stay short because it’s too hot in the tent or the mosquitoes are intense, it’s motivating. We recently moved the tent to a shady location and paid several hundred dollars for a higher BTU air conditioner. We’re taking measures to treat mosquitoes and have bought a large fan to help deter them in the campsite. 

As much as I dread failure, it’s inevitable when we’re trying something new. The important thing is that no matter how many times we fail, we get back up and try again. And that’s what I’ll do tomorrow. 

Sherry Asbury Clark is Co-Founder of Purdon Groves and a freelance writer. Her column, Finding Myself in a Small Town, appears each week in the Corsicana Daily Sun. You may reach her at For more information on Purdon Groves, a farm, table, venue and retreat property, check out or visit their Instagram or Facebook pages.

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